Gabon's President Ali Bongo is a man of many faces.

To some, he is a spoilt, playboy prince who sees ruling the oil-rich Gabon as his birthright; a one-time funk singer who stepped into his father's shoes to continue his family's 50-year rule.

He dabbled in music with his 1977 album A Brand New Man, produced by funk legend James Brown's manager, Charles Bobbit.

"Let me be your darling, Your everything, 'til the end of time," Bongo crooned on the title track:

To others, he is a reformer - a man who, they would argue, was voted into power democratically by the masses.

His supporters also point to his role in attempting to diversify Gabon's oil-dependent economy, in the face of declining oil reserves.

But his recent ill health has pushed tensions to the surface in this country of just more than two million people. On Monday morning, a group of soldiers tried - and apparently failed - to take control.

Among their stated reasons was an attempt to "restore democracy" following the 2016 election, which Mr Bongo narrowly won amid accusations of fraud and acts of violence.